Monday, February 20, 2006


Today marks the hundredth and final post for Daytips for Writers. Thanks to all of you who have visited here -- it has been my pleasure sharing some of the bits of wisdom that have helped me on my own writing journey. I wish all of you much writing success, whether you measure that by publications or words on the page. Everyone has a story to tell, and I look forward to reading all of yours. May the Muse inspire you, and when all else fails, remember all it takes to be a writer is to write. Good luck to all!

Sunday, February 19, 2006


According to a BE&K advertisement in the Alabama Symphony Orchestra's magazine Opus, the two things that make any worthwhile endeavor successful are timing and hard work. It's true of writing, too: the harder you work at perfecting craft, the better the results. And there's a little piece of timing/luck involved as well. Today, work hard. Luck will follow.

Saturday, February 18, 2006


Check out, particularly the article entitled "Building a Poem." Remember that every writer's process is different, but we can learn from each other. Today, try something new for you. And if the Muse knocks, give her the best seat by the fire and place in her hands a steamy cup of tea.

Friday, February 17, 2006


It's an inclement weather day here in Shelby County, which means the kids are out of school (but wouldn't have been had winter not been so tame here this year). Today, write something weather-related. Perhaps you've got a Katrina story you haven't been brave enough to put on paper. Or something about global warming. Or maybe what's tripping your trigger is not actual weather but the metaphorical variety. Whatever it is, today, write it down.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


"We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty." -- Maya Angelou
Today, where ever you are on your writing journey, remember where you've been.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


No one sees the world the same way you do. While it's not always easy to share personal emotions and observations, that's exactly what a poet should do. Readers want poems that show us an honest glimpse into life. Today, write something only you can write.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Writing is, more than anything else, about conveying your passions to the world. Today, give yourself a Valentine and consider my most favorite writing quote ever:

"Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for."

- Ray Bradbury

Monday, February 13, 2006


Today, check out my friend (and publisher) Dale Wisely's online literary mag Right Hand Pointing. And if you've got any short pieces (under 20 lines), submit them!

Sunday, February 12, 2006


Raymond Inman said "If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking." Today, brave the elements and find inspiration outdoors.

Saturday, February 11, 2006


In his poem "Introduction to Poetry," Billy Collins writes

"I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it."

I assume Collins is talking about the reader, here... but who reads poetry but other poets? Today, examine some of your own writing to determine whether you're trying too hard to achieve some purpose. Instead of trying to force an idea or viewpoint on the reader, simply invite the reader in, offer her a cup of tea. Let the conversation evolve as it will.

Friday, February 10, 2006


"The world of reality has limits; the world of imagination is boundless."
-- Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Today, consider how this quote might apply to your writing. If you're feeling blocked, escape the confines of your limited life experiences and just dream something up.

Thursday, February 9, 2006


Thanks to Wordswimmer, I found out about a book on writing by one of my favorite authors, Robert Olen Butler: From Where You Dream. I am about three chapters in, and already can say I highly recommend it. A few years back, I had the good fortune to meet Mr. Butler and his wife who is also an excellent writer, Elizabeth Dewberry, author of one of my favorite books ever Many Things Have Happened Since He Died, and at the time, the couple directed me to Mr. Butler's internet project on the creative process, particularly on how to write a short story. The site still exists, here. Today, see what you can learn from Robert Olen Butler and Elizabeth Dewberry (used to be Vaughn).

Wednesday, February 8, 2006


Wallace Stevens' poem "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" provides a great framework for other writers to work with. In fact, in a recent Alabama State Poetry Society student contest, I received a dozen or more poems on the "thirteen ways" theme. The thing the judges noticed when considering these poems is that some things cannot withstand the scrutiny of thirteen looks. For instance, one poem was about a muffin. It just didn't hold up. Today, try to write a "thirteen ways" poem. But if your subject can't go the distance, be willing to let it end where it ends.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006


I've been tagged by Julia to 'fess up and say five things that are weird about me. It's just a fun little game, so why am I feeling all self-conscious? My first impulse is, no way. But I love Julia, so I should play, shouldn't I? More than that, I should want to, right? Weird. So that's #1 on my weird list.
2. I live in the suburbs, drive a van, organize carpool, and probably look like a very ordinary soccer mom. But I'm a poet whose heart is in the wild somewhere, who dreams of solitude and silence and love, surrounded by acres and acres of woods.
3. I was named for my great-grandmother, who by all accounts "never said anything bad about anyone." For a long time I thought she was a saint whose name I couldn't possibly live up to; now I've decided she was just a human, like me, who had her opinions but didn't feel the need to spread them around. That I can respect; that I would like to live up to.
4. I have an affinity for old men. I love being friends with them, love hearing their stories, love who I am when I am with them.
5. I think yes is the scariest word in the English language. Which makes it my favorite.

Today, write something weird for you, something out of your comfort zone. And if you're feeling really brave, post it here. (Mary and Anna, I'd love to hear from you.)

Monday, February 6, 2006


Is there a great storyteller in your life? For Gabriel Garcia Marquez it was his grandfather and grandmother who would recount "the wildest things with a completely natural tone of voice." Garcia Marquez used that style of storytelling in much of his writing, including his Nobel Prize winning One Hundred Years of Solitude. Today, think about storytellers you have known and loved, then try to write a story or poem using that same style.

Sunday, February 5, 2006


Robert Frost said, "Poetry is a fresh look and a fresh listen."
Samuel Coleridge said, "Poetry is the best words in the best order."
Percy Bysshe Shelley said, "Poetry is the record of the best and happiest moments of the happiest and best minds."
I think Frost and Coleridge are right on target. Shelley, on the other hand... huh?!
Today, think about how you define poetry.

Friday, February 3, 2006


Just discovered a wonderful blog on the craft of writing: Wordswimmer. It's a great watering hole for thirsty writers. Check it out!


It's a new Chinese year... today, check the Chinese zodiac and determine which animal hides within you. Then write something about that animal.

Thursday, February 2, 2006


Today, consider what Czelaw Milosz said when he won the Nobel prize for literature: “In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot."

Wednesday, February 1, 2006


One of my favorite literary journals is Free Lunch, edited by Ron Offen. It's a journal that welcomes unpublished poets and publishes them right alongside the big names. The editor has good taste in poetry and also offers wise words in each issue regarding the State of Poetry. Best of all, even if he rejects your poems, he offers specific feedback guaranteed to make you a better writer. Today, check out Free Lunch, and send in a submission. Good luck!